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The broadcast industry has changed since then, and is undergoing the same kind of technological revolution that occurred when Sarnoff introduced television. Still there are programmers and producers with great passion for the medium, and we count ourselves among them. But now these broadcasters have had to embrace other media as well--cable and the Internet--to avoid being crushed by the furious pace of technology.
For that same reason we've just teamed up with our longtime partner, Caryn Mandabach, as well as Geraldine Laybourne and Oprah Winfrey, in a venture called Oxygen, in which we will fuse a new cable channel with an Internet base to program for women.
The heady feeling is back with another technology revolution. But the basic truth Sarnoff articulated--television is a beneficial, creative force--still holds despite the tumult of vertical integration, ratings wars, new-media breakthroughs and Internet companies with zooming stock prices. Certainly, the General would have caught the new wave, if not led it, and embraced television's transformation by the digital age. His channel was always dialed to the future.
Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner have produced the hit TV series The Cosby Show, Roseanne and 3rd Rock from the Sun
The Other Powers Behind the Screen
First there was radio, then television, then lots and lots of television. Although Sarnoff was the seminal figure, these visionary entrepreneurs were instrumental in shaping the media world of today
William Paley The founder of CBS brought to the infant medium both a showman's instincts and a public-service mission. He staged TV's first big talent raid, hiring Jack Benny and other top stars from NBC. And he invented modern broadcast news, giving Ed Murrow and his proteges the corporate backing that still inspires TV journalists.
Ted Turner He turned a tiny UHF station in Atlanta into the nation's first superstation; then decided, against all odds, that an all-news TV channel could succeed. TBS and CNN helped define the transforming world of cable television. And Turner (now vice chairman of Time Warner) enlivened it with his buccaneering bravado.
Rupert Murdoch The Australia-born mogul broke the oligopoly that defined the media world for much of the century. When everyone said three networks were enough, he created a fourth, Fox. When TV was still a parochial business, he made it global, with satellite ventures around the world. All that and the New York Post too.